So Jesse sent for his youngest son and brought him in. He was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him, for he is the one."
1. Not chosen according to the thoughts of men. Samuel, who at first hesitated to go to Bethlehem on so dangerous an errand as the Lord prescribed to him? when he did go was inclined to be over hasty. Assuming that a new king who should supplant Saul ought to be not inferior to him in stature and strength, the prophet at once fixed on Eliab, the eldest son in Jesse's family, as the one who should be the Lord's anointed. Here was a man able to cope with, or worthy to succeed, the almost gigantic son of Kish. But the Lord corrected his servant's mistake. The time was past for choosing a leader on the score of "outward appearance." The Lord sought for the regal position a man whose heart would be true and obedient. Now Eliab's heart, as the next chapter shows, was small, though his body was large; his temper was vain and overbearing. So he had to pass; and all his brothers who were present at the feast had to pass. Not one of them had such a heart as the Lord required; and it is a significant fact that we never read of any of these men in after years as playing any honourable or memorable part in the history of their country, unless the Septuagint reading of 1 Chronicles 27:18 be right, and the Eliab here mentioned held the office of a tribal chief under his royal brother.
2. Chosen according to the thoughts of God. When the young shepherd, being sent for by his father, entered the chamber with his bright hair and fair countenance, fresh from the fields, the Lord bade Samuel anoint him. "This is he." The selection of the youngest son is in keeping with what we find in many Bible stories. Divine choice traversed the line of natural precedence. The Lord had respect to Abel, not to Cain; to Jacob rather than to Esau; to Joseph above his eider brethren. Ephraim was blessed above Manasseh; Moses was set over Aaron; Gideon was the youngest in his father's house. In this there is something so pleasing to the imagination that it has passed into the tales and legends of many nations. Of three brothers, or seven brothers, it is always the youngest who surpasses everyone, accomplishes the difficult task, and rises to be a king. David's superiority to his brothers was intrinsic, and the result not of luck, but of grace. The Lord had drawn his heart to himself in the days of youth. Accordingly, where such men as Saul and Eliab were weak David was strong. He revered and loved the Lord, and could therefore be depended on to do God's will. "To whom also," says Stephen, "he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who shall fulfil all my will." The last clause in this extract shows what is intended by the one which goes before. David was a man after the Lord's heart in loyally doing his will. He was not without fault; he certainly displeased God more than once; but he thoroughly apprehended what Saul never could understand - that a king of Israel must not be an autocrat, but should without question or murmur carry out the paramount will of God. In this respect David never failed. He had many trials and temptations, afflictions that might have made him discontented, and successes that might have made him proud; but he continued steadfast in his purpose of heart to be the Lord's, to consult the Lord about everything, and carry out his revealed will.
3. Prepared in retirement for future eminence. There is a sort of augury of his career in his father's words, "Behold, he keepeth the sheep." Saul first came before us going hither and thither in search of asses that were astray, and not finding them. So, as a king, he went up and down, restless and disappointed. But David kept the flock intrusted to him, and, as a king, he shepherded the flock of God. "So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands."
(1) As a shepherd David formed habits of vigilance. He had to think for the flock, lead the sheep to pasture, see that they were regularly watered, watch that none strayed or were lost, and look well after the ewes and the tender lambs. All this served to make him in public life wary, prudent, thoughtful for others, a chieftain who deserved the confidence of his followers. Saul bad little or none of this. He went to and fro, and fought bravely, but evinced none of that unselfish consideration for his people which marks a kingly shepherd. David showed it all through his career. He watched over his subjects, thought for them, instructed and led them. Near the end of his reign he committed an error which brought disaster on Israel; and it is touching to see how the true shepherd's heart was grieved that the flock should suffer through his fault. He Cried to the Lord, "Lo, I have sinned, and have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done?"
(2) As a shepherd David proved and improved his courage. Shepherds in Palestine, in those days, were obliged to protect their flocks from prowling beasts of prey. How many encounters of this kind David may have had we do not know; but we learn from himself that, while yet a stripling, he had fought and slain both a lion and a bear rather than give up one lamb or kid of the flock. His was the best sort of courage - natural intrepidity of a true and brave spirit, sustained and elevated by unquestioning trust in God. While encountering the wild beasts in defence of his flock David was being fitted, though he knew it not, to face an armed giant in behalf of Israel, and in many battles afterwards to beat down the enemies of his country. The springs of his courage were in God. "Jehovah is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?"
(3) As a shepherd David had leisure for music and poetry. As he kept the sheep he learned to play on his harp with a skill which was the occasion of his first rise from obscurity; and he composed and sang sweet lyrics, pious and patriotic. Whether he looked up to the sky, or looked round on the hills and valleys, or recalled to mind famous passages of his nation's history, everything gave him a song to Jehovah. Every poet writes juvenile pieces, which, though defective, show the bent of his genius; and in after years, if he has not rashly published them, he is able to recast them into new and more perfect forms as his mind grows and his skill improves. So, doubtless, the son of Jesse, in the pastoral solitude at Bethlehem, began to compose lyrics which in more mature life, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he threw into the forms of those Psalms which carry down his fame to the end of time. What a contrast to the unhappy son of Kish! Saul had the impulse of music and song upon him more than once; but he had to be acted on by others, and his own spirit had no inward harmony. As the years advanced his life became more and more unmelodious and out of tune; whereas David's early addiction to devout song and minstrelsy prepared him to be something better than a gruff warrior in his manhood. Born with genius and sensibility, he grew up a man of some accomplishment, and when called to the throne, elevated the mental and spiritual tone of the nation, and was, through a long reign, himself a very fountain of musical culture and sweet poetic thought.
4. Anointed without and within. Samuel anointed the youth outwardly, pouring oil over his head; Jehovah anointed him inwardly, for "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." The old prophet is a figure of John the Baptist, another Nazarene, and one who came to prepare the way of the King. David suggests Another, a descendant of his own, born in the same Bethlehem, and, like himself, lightly esteemed. As Samuel poured oil on the head of David, so John poured water on the head of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Then Samuel retired from view. So John too retired, and made way for him whom he had baptized. "He must increase, but I must decrease." The parallel goes still further. David had been a child of grace, but on that day the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he got what Samuel could not impart - a Divine qualification for the work and dignity to which he was destined. Jesus had been holy, harmless, and undefiled from his mother's womb; but on the day of his baptism the Spirit, as a dove, descended and rested upon him, and he got what John could not impart - the Divine qualification of his humanity for the work and dignity to which he was destined as the Christ, the Lord's Anointed. "Now know I that the Lord sayeth his anointed." Therefore He will save us who follow the King. Only let the name of the King be our watchword, his righteousness our righteousness, his strength our strength, his mind our mind, his anointing our anointing. So shall we see him and be with him in his kingdom and glory. - F.
Arise, anoint him, for this is he.
I. YOUNG DAVID'S HOME. His mother's name is untold. But, as we might expect, she was a godly woman, "Thy handmaid," as David could say in prayer to God. His father Jesse was an old man in David's youth (1 Samuel 17:12). With seven brothers and two sisters, Zeruiah and Abigail, he was apparently the youngest of them all. The companionship that failed him with his much older brothers he probably found with his sisters' sons — Joab, Abishai, Asahel, and Amuse — who would be to him more like cousins than nephews. His father was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, the Moabitess. Jesse was not like Boaz, a "mighty man of wealth." He kept no servant, as far as appears in the record. His flocks were "a few sheep." In much solitude, though one of many children, and meeting little appreciation — though surely the mother must have read some great promise in her youngest son! — grew David. To and fro, between his home and flock, he went, and the simple people of Bethlehem little imagined that he was to make their own town famous through all lands, and to be to men of all ages one of their holiest and most helpful teachers. Who can forecast the destiny of the children we meet, the children of our homes? A future is before each of them; it may be of lowly usefulness, if not of eminence. And the thought even of young David, to whom, it seems, small appreciation gathered, will give point to our Lord's solemn warning, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones."
II. DAVID'S OCCUPATION. It was that of a mountain shepherd. The shepherds of Bethlehem — which stood on a rugged ridge of the hill country of Judah with deep gorges eastward to the Dead Sea and westward to the Philistine plain — had to keep their sheep amid no ordinary difficulties. Every Syrian shepherd's life was one of exposure and privation. Alertness and courage needed in the shepherd were found in David. Much alone, toiling as humble youth among humble men, not a day but by the work of his hands, his companionships, his perils, he was being prepared to be the shepherd of a nation. And because he was faithful over a few things — feeding sheep, nursing lambs, going after the lost, fighting back the thief — God purposed to make him ruler over many things. However lowly our station and inconspicuous our toil, we are to be faithful in it. Our business may be small, but it is big enough to be faithful in.
III. DAVID'S ENDOWMENTS. Though not of commanding stature like Saul, he was endowed with uncommon beauty. Dwelling among a dark-complexioned, black-locked people, "he was ruddy," "cherry cheeked," as an old English writer calls him, or, according to the rendering of the ancient versions, auburn-haired. David was endowed with the poet-soul. The experiences of his shepherd occupation coloured many of his Psalms. The value of David's great musical and poetic gift to himself must not be overlooked. But not because of his physical beauty or poetic genius was David chosen to the throne. It was because of his true and holy character. "From a child he knew the Holy Scriptures," a portion of them consisting of but little more than the Pentateuch. His delight was in them; they were his meditation day and night. His heart was right with God. He was "glad in the Lord" With radiant piety he went to daily duty and through it. "He carolled to his fleecy care." He was not the less but the more manly for his piety. Wild beasts found in him their victor. And the violent robber retreated before this young but valiant man of war. His heart was right and so his life was right for duty or danger. The Lord looketh on the heart. Then what does He see in us? The "heart right with God" is the grand essential to all valuable and enduring service to our generation. Where God looks let us look. Let our heart be right, and then though our intentions, motives, conduct, may be questioned and maligned by men all will be well with us, God Himself will vindicate and reward us in that great day when the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed.
IV. DAVID'S ANOINTING. When David comes before us in the sacred record it is to be anointed by aged Samuel, last and purest of the judges. Thus the obscure shepherd lad, the menial of his father's family, first meets us in history. Anointed! Did that family know the meaning of the rite? Prudential reasons would conceal it from them. Did David know? Most likely not. But he knew that God's favour was on him, and that of some kind, a great future was before him. He was not impatient; for it. He would prepare for it; by study of God's law, in which he may henceforth have received instruction from Samuel, whose home (for there were several Ramahs) was, very likely, not many miles away; by still tending his sheep he would also prepare for it. When the great future comes it will know where to find him. In the faithful discharge of daily duties every Christian man is preparing for heaven's glorious future. He is being trained up for an eternal, if not a temporal throne.
(G. T. Coster.)
I. IT IS PLAIN THAT THE LAW OF DIVINE ELECTION PAYS NO REGARD TO HUMAN PREJUDICES. There is, for example, a prejudice in favour of appearance. Samuel himself was the subject of that prejudice. We may, too, have prejudices as respects age. We rightly say that age should speak, that a multitude of days should teach wisdom, that a man who has come to maturity, or grey hairs, has a right to a certain measure of supremacy. There is, too, a prejudice as regards employment. We infer that because a man has been brought up in a lowly employment, therefore he is not qualified for high rule, for supreme command. Now as Samuel had the one prejudice, Jesse had the other. Thus setting aside human prejudices, and working according to a law which never has been sanctioned by the merely natural reason of mankind.
1. By calling unlikely men to the front, God humbles human judgment. No man can arise and say, "This is the Lord's chosen one," or "That ought to be the specially honoured servant of the Most High." Not the keenest, wisest, strongest of us is entitled to say who shall be sent on the Lord's errands. We are ruled by prejudices, we are sometimes victims of appearances. We see form, not soul — hands, not hearts. We draw conclusions from things seen and temporal. God hushes all our voices, and says, "I am the Lord; I will send by whom I will send: the work is Mine, and the Master must choose the servants." God also keeps the world in constant expectation by calling unlikely men to do the chief of His work in society. The Lord is round about us, and at any moment He may charge us with His messages, and clothe us with His power!
3. By calling unlikely men to the front, God equalises the conditions of society. Suppose for one moment that all men were called from one class. What a change would take place in our social relations! what pride would inspire some people, what despair would chill and darken others! But God is continually working by a sovereign law, which we cannot understand, but which always vindicates its own mercifulness, as well as shows its infinite wisdom. God equalises one aristocracy with another, and daily teaches us that no man is to be despised; that in the meanest of His creatures He can set up His temple, if He will!
4. See then the graciousness of the law of sovereign election. We do not speak of the majesty, the impressiveness, and sublimity of the law. But in this law of sovereign election, daily at work amidst the affairs of men, we discover infinite graciousness, beneficence, compassion. The law has not only a sublime side, but a side which appeals to our emotions, to our gratitude, to our confidence. God's strength is the measure of God's love. So had I any choice in the matter, I should prefer that God should elect to rule according to His own counsel without ever consulting me. I would pray Him to save me from consultation; I would appeal to Him not to make me a party to a decision; I would be His servant, His agent, His son. I am but an insect born yesterday. What shall I say to the eternal and infinite God? I say, "Do not ask me; do not consult me; Thou knowest all; let me find my liberty in Thy sovereignty; let me find my freedom in Thy rule; what Thou doest, infinite, living One, must be best!"
II. IT IS PLAIN FROM THIS INSTANCE THAT THE LAW OF DIVINE ELECTION PROVES ITSELF IN SPIRITUAL GIFTS. We read, "The Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." The same thing we see in the case of Saul, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came, and of whom we read, "The Lord gave him another heart." So it was with Joshua. In like manner we read that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." So with Samson the strong man. It is of supreme importance that this side of the doctrine be understood; so that the law of Divine election may be saved from abuse. Let us understand, therefore, what we are talking about; namely, the law of Divine election vindicates itself in spiritual expression on the part of those who are divinely elected. How is a man to shew his election? Not by pretension. Not by contemptuous treatment of other workers. The divinely-elected man is a magnanimous man. He rarely has recourse to contempt; when he is contemptuous, it is for moral, not for merely personal, reasons. How, then, is a man to prove that he is called of God to do a special work, or to occupy a special position? I answer, distinctly and emphatically, by the purity and force of his spiritual qualifications. Only so far as he has the Holy Ghost is he the elect servant, the representative of God! There must be something about him that is not merely physically distinctive, separating him from all other men, and giving him a bearing and force which could only be derived from long-continued fellowship with the unseen ever-living Lord! An intelligent appreciation of this law of Divine sovereign election would be attended by the happiest consequences. Life would no longer be looked upon as an irregular warfare. Lose your grasp of this doctrine of the Divine rule and the sovereign majesty of God, and life becomes a scramble on the streets; the strongest wins, the weakest is knocked to the wall; and as for the spiritual man, the soul that has not lost its sensibility, the man that has ideas of righteousness, truth, and honour — such men must be trampled in the dust. Lay hold of this doctrine, that God is at the centre, God is on the throne, marshalling all forces, and ruling all events; and how confused soever may be present appearances, you will find a law working itself out which shall justify everyone who is good, vindicate every righteous claim, confound the wicked, and bear them away upon the whirlwind of Divine indignation. Not only will this result follow; but responsibility will be felt to be measurable by proper limitations. All men are not equally responsible before God. Some of us require he be comforted upon this point, because this great question of responsibility is so heavy to carry; it troubles and overweights us till we can hardly get along at all — so grievous is our sense of personal responsibility. Tell me that God gives be every man a certain number of talents — five, two, or one. Tell me that from him to whom much has been given, much will be required, and that from him to whom little has been given, little will be required; then I begin to feel the justness, the equity, and graciousness of the living Lord. You may expect me to say one word about another kind of election, or another bearing of this law of election. Let me, then, deny, that any man is elected to badness of character. I ask you to prove, by any correct quotation from the Divine record, that God ever called a man to wickedness. The whole tone of Biblical teaching is against a theory so monstrous. I do read of election to righteousness, of calls to high offices and noble functions. I never read of God electing a man to hell! As to this matter of election, I would to God that some who object to it were as commonsense in this matter as they are in the daily actions of ordinary life! There is a prize to be given in the school. It is one prize; there are five hundred scholars in the school. The boys say, "Well, only one of us can get it, why should five hundred of us be toiling and fagging for it?" Another boy says, "I know if I am to have the prize I will get it; so I shall read no books, and make no preparation." You would not allow a boy to reason so. Yet there are men who say this, "If we are called to heaven, we'll get to heaven; if we are elected to be saved, we need not make any effort about it." "Thou wicked and slothful servant: out of thine own mouth I condemn thee;" the whole action of thy evil life shall be thy answer on the day of judgment, and thou shalt be condemned to an ignominious silence because of a self-accusing conscience. With God upon the throne, why should we be distressed by unhappy appearances and unwelcome rumours? The Lord reigneth; that is enough. The sovereignty of the Lord is the security of all goodness. Destroy sovereignty, and you inaugurate confusion. What would be our poor human life, were God to leave the throne, and allow us to go our own way, and do our own bidding?
(J. Parker, D. D.)
1. The despised of man is in this case the chosen of God. It seems that David was not thought much of at home, but God valued him highly. How often has it happened that boys who have been the subjects of special care, being regarded as geniuses, have repaid the care taken with them by running wild, and thus piercing a tender mother's and a loving father's heart. Whereas, on the other hand, some who have been comparatively neglected, can account of their seeming stupidity, have turned out, real heroes, the props of parents' declining years. "Many a gem" that shall sparkle brightly in the place of happiness is here unseen, and "many a flower" that shall bloom in the soil of Paradise hides its head on earth, like the "modest" violet. Poor Christians, never heed if you are slighted by purse-proud brethren. Jesus will say to you by and by, "Come up higher;" while He will say to those, "Go down lower." Everyone, sooner or later, will find his proper level. Merit will be rewarded, if not in this world, in the next. As Christians, we can well afford to wait for our exaltation.
2. What sort, of a youth was this David? David was a true child of nature. As "a blithesome shepherd-boy." he was always reading in her wide-extended book, which told him of the glories of the God of the Hebrews. As nature's child, he could sing with all artlessness unto nature's God. He glorified God in his own shepherd language, as the shepherd of Israel. David's personal appearance was but the reflex of his inward beauty! where it exists ii; stamps its image upon the plainest countenance, and makes it lovely. David, ruddy and beautiful, was called by God; hence let us learn that God requires the young, the beautiful, to be His servants. Now, I take this picture of David to be a good type of the Church of Christ. It is certain that the ideal Christ, of which we love to think, will be "ruddy, beautiful, and goodly to look to" it, all completeness, but this is in measure the appearance of the real Church of today. "Ruddy, and beautiful, and goodly to look to" — oh. yes! for she is baptised with the Redeemer's blood; His own image impressed upon her makes her exceedingly lovely. Do you ask "Where is the proof of her vigour?" Ten thousand proofs are at hand. On the icy plains of the far North some are found who delight in calling upon the name of the Lord Down at the extreme South are those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Thank God, the church can never lose its youthful vigour whilst young recruits are stepping up in the ranks to supply vacancies caused by the removal of hoary warriors whose warfare is ended.
3. Let us make one or two other practical remarks on this passage. The Lord's people form a family; but there are many who, like David in the next, are not now in the family circle: many are keeping sheep for Satan, and refuse to attend the family meal. God says, "Send and fetch them, for we will not sit down till they come hither." A great feast day is approaching, when all true worshippers shall sit down in the banqueting house, and feast with Jesus. God wants to have a full house then. Shall Satan's dram shops, and public houses, and dancing saloons be filled on earth, and the Lord's table empty in heaven? No. "Send and fetch" them in the name of God. Ages have rolled by since David departed from earth; but do no sweet sounds of David's harp still linger on the ear. "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord."
(A. H. Jones.)
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)1 Samuel 15:35; see Elijah's case, 1 Kings ch. 19), but grief must not keep us from duty and adequate provision for the future. Israel had chosen to have a king; now God will provide a fitting leader, having in view not only present interest, but interests stretching forward into a boundless future. Samuel is to go and anoint the king of God's providing. But, godly and loyal as he is, Samuel fears, for the best men are not always at their best. Saul is still actual and rightful king, and he may hear of this and treat him as a rebel. So he is directed to a course which is not marked by duplicity, but prudence — not by lying, but by reticence. Silence is sometimes as much a duty as plain speech is at other times (1 Samuel 10:16). A man may be reticent, but not deceitful, as that minister might be if questioned by meddlers regarding the man he warned. The Divine word is, "Arise, anoint him." Concurrently with this solemn rite, a Divine gift was given David. How much was explained to him we are not told, but he began from that hour to receive a preparation of mind through the teaching and power of the Holy Ghost. New ideas, aims, hopes, took hold of his nature. Samuel went to Ramah, but, David would be in communication with him, and get further light in what was for the present a secret. (chaps. 19, 20)
1. We see here how man's sinful will is regarded, overruled, and used for the exhibition of God's will, yet without sin in God. Are we trying to do God's will as His? We must carry it out in the end, but is it to be willingly or the reverse?
2. We see how God prepares His instruments for their work in their mind and character. David's training begins, perhaps, by hopes and longings put into his heart, of which his language in ch. 17 is the outcome.
3. But this does not remove from view the fitness in him, coming of a good family where piety was prized and life was trained for God (Numbers 1:7; Numbers 2:3; Ruth 4:20). Jesse was an acquaintance of Samuel — a good sign. No training, however, and no anointing, dispenses with the Holy Ghost (ver. 13).
4. David in his shepherd life was being made ready for his work and for his typical place.
5. Even an eminent prophet needs to be guided as to his feelings and his judgments. God is "the only wise."
(John Hall, D. D.)
Monday Club Sermons.God determines His own methods for accomplishing His own ends. When an evil spirit had come upon Saul, and he had proved himself unworthy longer to reign over Israel, a train of influences was put in operation to bring another and more worthy incumbent to the throne.
I. A DIVINE DIRECTING. Samuel was at Ramah. Here the Lord meets him, with the direction to fill his horn with oil and proceed to Bethlehem, where from the family of Jesse is to be taken Israel's future king. Samuel foresaw the difficulty. There would be peril to his life in doing publicly so rash an act as anointing Saul's successor while as yet he sat on the throne. But He who has promised to give wisdom to those who seek, now guided the prophet's way. "Those," says Matthew Henry, "that go about God's work in God's way shall be directed step by step." Thus obeying and praying, the prophet enters the town. The appearance, however, of this man of God in the little village filled the elders with alarm. Too often, in planning even for the Lord's work, His servants fall into as great unwisdom as would the prophet had he openly proclaimed in the streets of Bethlehem, "I am come to anoint Saul's successor."
II. A DIVINE SELECTING. God has indicated one to become ruler of the nation. The people had selected Saul; God has appointed David Saul was chosen for qualities which men hold in high esteem; David was appointed because of the spirit which dwelt within. "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Doubtless there was not one in Israel who would have looked on David as suited to become Saul's successor. We learn from this that no choice is wise which Heaven does not direct. Now, as then, if any one seeks wisdom, he must ask it from above. Man often chooses to his hurt because he chooses without God. Now, also, as then, right qualities of heart are needed in positions high or low. Again, we learn that the hope of the matron and the world is in the young. Jesse and his household thought that the child David alight not be invited into the prophet's presence. So think multitudes today. When churches spread their feast, and families gather at the sacramental board, by the absence there of youthful faces, one is often painfully reminded of the question Samuel asked — "Are these all my children?" Parents, Sabbath school teachers, churches, pass not the children by.
III. A DIVINE QUALIFYING. Although by Samuel's act the youthful David was now anointed, he was yet to be trained to become a king. This God effected by methods of His own. The lad returned from the feast to his shepherd life. He was, however, preeminently in God's school. He was the same boy, but with his thoughts lifted higher. Significantly is it said that "The Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." Henceforth the ordinary events of life were to him God's messengers — instruments by which he was being fitted for a throne.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
1. The object of the ceremony, then, was first official. It intimated, by its solemnity, and its minister, that the work was of God — His design and His appointment, and, therefore, not to be disputed. This sacredness of the ceremony precluded all jealousy and contention. God had avowed David as His representative, and so declared Himself for his protection.
2. Our business now is to view natural abilities and endowments in the same light with those official qualifications. We have no miracles, they are unnecessary; we have no form or ceremony, which, by its own virtue, or the virtue of agents and ministers, can communicate to us any unusual or supernatural quality. Nevertheless, the Creator of mind is the ruler of mind; and we observe that by a train of known and ordinary circumstances, providentially directed, He has often raised to honour, and qualified with ability, the very men whom least of all and last of all we should have singled out for advancement. Our position was a gift from God, a free election on His part: our natural endowments likewise came from His special favour. There is an account demanded of our duties — our ordinary ones, our social ones. our worldly work and occupation, how far we have been faithful, and how far everything committed to our trust has been dedicated and applied to the good of man and glory of God. as God is now revealed to us. A general impression prevails with men as to moral responsibility, but the responsibility which presses on us connected with the Gospel of Christ, this is not so fully admitted. Then let us remember that if we are thus Christ's people we are so far a purpose that must be fulfilled. "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood; you are called to a regal office, see that ye fulfil it." It is this you are called to reign over sin. (Romans 6:12.) You are called to reign over the world, to overcome it in all its forms of hostility against Gad and godliness. Who is sufficient for these things, who could venture on the mere calling or appointment, without the becoming qualifications? Hence our eyes and hearts must be on the spiritual consecration. "But ye have an unction from the Holy One." (1 John 2:20.) That is our oil of consecration, and by it we receive virtually the power to sustain us in our great appointment.
3. The first influence of this unction is knowledge, the last is glory. Knowledge was the ambition of man, under the false teaching of Satan, and he found it not except in the discovery of his own guilt, and the experience of sin. Now, we know better things; we know the love of Christ, the remedy for sin, the love of the Father, the peace of faith, the abiding succour of the Holy Ghost.
4. The prophetic or typical signification of the ceremony directed in the text. David was a figure of Christ, and a striking one. He is called, He is adopted, and visibly before His household is ordained to be the preserver and king of Israel. Are we not led instantly in our thoughts to the commission and action of the Baptist? Urged on by his own predictions, and administering the rite of baptism preparative to the arrival of this Saviour, we may easily imagine with what an ardent and inquiring gaze this herald of the Redeemer's approach looked for him, to whom was turned both true and false, the expectation of the world. We can conceive his repeated disappointment when noble after noble swept along in proud array, perhaps to hear and honour his awakening call to penitence; still no recognition was afforded — no signal yet declared the promised Saviour. At last a lowly form draws near — an humble garb, a gentle mien, an unpretending aspect, which exact no worldly reverence. He is mingled, too, in the crowd of publicans and sinners, who throng the Baptist's ministry, to win some peace, some hope, to their afflicted, guilty hearts. Here is one without comeliness or external majesty, from whom the common eye would turn heedlessly away; but the spirit within the Baptist calls to homage — "Arise, anoint him, this is he." At the baptism of Christ we are told the spirit of the Lord descended on Him — the full unction of the Holy Spirit was poured out on Him. (Matthew 3:17.) Christ, then, was publicly anointed, to be our prophet, priest, and king. Let us follow a few passages of Scripture which hear upon His consecration to office.(1) The consecration of Christ rehearses to us that our deliverer was one in whom dwelt the whole fulness of the Godhead bodily. He was no creature, but the God of creation; no inferior power of Heaven, but the Supreme Being Himself, and hence our redemption is most sure.(2) In the consecration of Jesus Christ at the Jordan, there was a special conveyance made of qualities suitable to His prophetic office; in these qualities rest all our comforts. Hear the commission of this Saviour, and the qualities conferred on him for the fulfilment of his office. (Luke 4:18, 19.) "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," etc.(3) And, finally, this typical import of David's consecration was a representation of Christ's royal appointment. In the forty-fifth Psalm this royal appointment is described; there the Divine origin of Christ is proclaimed, and His perfect Deity is insisted on. His unction, too, is specified, but it is for authority and government, rather than spiritual ministry — "Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness, therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Ministry is over, and suffering, and death, and all inferiority; He sits now on the throne of glory, waiting till His foes become His footstool, waiting till the hour arrives for the judgment of a world which shall have outlived the period allotted for repentance, and yet repented not.
(C M. Fleury, A. M.)
Homilist.I. THE SHORTSIGHTEDNESS OF EVEN THE BEST OF MEN. Even Samuel was taken by the fair face and imposing stature of Eliab. Yet he knew nothing of Eliab's inner man. Human nature must be estimated simply by external observation. Hence it is only natural that he should make mistakes.
II. THE INSCRUTABLE PURPOSES OF GOD. He overrules all the estimates of men, and His estimates are very different to those of men. The servants of Jesse had not even thought it worth while to call David in. This is only reasonable. For,
1. He must know the nature of man.
2. Because He has no selfish purposes to accomplish.
3. Because He is actuated by the most benign of motives to all.
III. THE VALUABLE INSTRUCTION TO BE DERIVED.
1. Moral worth is the truest beauty.
2. We should seek to form our standard of excellence by the character of God.
3. We must not be rash in our judgment of any one's character.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Christian Commonwealth.The anointing of David was a mysterious incident. Saul knew nothing of it. He went on as before. The kingdom was undisturbed, though a new king was in its midst. So it is in the world today. Jesus Christ is crowned King of kings, but the world over which He has supreme authority knows in its carnal confidence nothing at all of what is going on behind the veil of destiny. Even while winter storms are raging the summer is prophesied by the tiny buds that quietly nestle in the bark of the trees. A new life is secretly Cradled there, but months must pass before it is manifested. So Jesus Christ will come secretly, first in what the early Greek Christians called the "Parousia," His presence in the air; and afterwards He will appear in the "Epiphany," the brightness of His manifestation.
I. THE SURPRISE of all when they found that David, the least in his father's house, was the object of the Lord's choice, a king over Israel.
1. Observe that his brethren had no idea that David would be selected; such a thought had never entered into their heads.
2. It is more painful to notice that David's father should have had no idea of David's excellence. It sometimes happens that one in the family is overlooked, even by his parent, in his hopes and prayers. The father seems to think, "God may be pleased to convert William; he may call Mary; I trust in His Providence we shall see John grown up to be a credit to us; but as for Richard or Sarah, I do not know what will ever become of them." How often will parents have to confess that they have misjudged, and that the one upon whom they have set the black mark has been after all the joy and comfort of their lives, and has given them more satisfaction than all the rest put together.
3. It is clear also that Samuel, God's servant, had at first; no idea of David's election. Sometimes the Christian minister is deceived. He consults with flesh and blood, and selects Eliab, the man with a fine person. Then rank will come before the minister, and if he sees a person of high estate cheerfully listening to the gospel, he is very ready to think, "Surely the Lord hath chosen him." Again, others are so well educated that when the Word is preached they appreciate the style in which it is delivered, and the remarks which they make concerning it are so sensible and so judicious that the preacher is apt to say, "Surely the Lord hath chosen these!" At times, we feel sure that we have now pitched upon the right man, for we are charmed with our bearer's natural amiability of disposition, end are cheered by his tenderness and susceptibility of mind to religious impressions; and yet we are disappointed. Many lovely blossoms never become fruits, and hopeful saplings prove not to be plants of the Lord's right hand planting, and therefore are plucked up. At times, too, we hear such admirable conversation about religion that we conclude, "Now we have found out the chosen of the Lord." Meanwhile, the very one whom we overlooked, the least one in the assembly, has been the David upon whom God's blessing has fallen. How matchless is the sovereignty of God! "His ways are past finding out." The very poorest, the most illiterate, the meanest and most obscure, the things despised, yea, "the things that are not," doth He choose, to bring to naught the things that are. that no flesh should glory in His presence. It strikes me that there was one person more astonished when David was anointed than even his brothers, or his father, or the prophet — and that was himself. He was a wonder unto many, but chiefly to himself.
II. THE TOKEN of election, the secret mark which the Lord sets in due time upon the chosen. In due time every chosen person receives the seal of grace. That stamp is a new heart and a right spirit. What kind of heart had David? We may find it out by his Psalms. We cannot tell when some of the Psalms were written, but if any of them were written in his youth, the twenty-third was certainly one.
1. That beautiful pastoral poem opens a window into the heart of David, leg us look through it, and we shall soon perceive that he possessed a believing heart. How sweet is the sentence, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
2. We note, as we read the psalm, that David's heart was also a meditative heart. Mark the words, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters." He elsewhere writes: "My mediation of Him shall be sweet."
3. Go on with the Psalm, and I think you will be struck with the humble heart which David had, for all the way through he does not praise himself. "He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul." See, he has no crown for his own head; the crown is all for the Mighty One who is His shepherd.
4. We should altogether fail in describing David if we were to omit other qualifications. His was a holy heart. Observe in the same Psalm, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." David delighted not in iniquity; the men of Belial he put far from him. "A liar shall not tarry in my sight," said he. He loved the people of God. he styles them, "The excellent of the earth, in whom is all my delight." Holiness which becomes God's house was very delightful to David's soul. He loved the commandments of God because of their holiness. "Thy word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loveth it." (Psalm 119:140.)
5. Note what a brave heart beat in his breast. Where will you find a braver man than David? Let me remind you that he had a very contented and grateful heart.
6. You should further observe the constancy of David's heart. He says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." He was not one of the Pliables, who set out and turn back again at the first slough into which they tumble. By such marks may we know our election. I would God that those who are so positive of their election would condescend sometimes to try themselves by Scriptural marks and evidences.
III. MANIFESTATION, or the way in which the election of God is made apparent to ourselves and others. We cannot see the hearts of our fellow men, and therefore the heart can never be to us the way of distinguishing the elect of God, except so far as it is seen in the acts and words.
1. Now the first sign by which this election was made known to David himself and to a few others, who probably did not know much about it, was by his being anointed. There is a season when God anoints His people. They have believed. but there may elapse a little time between the believing and the conscious anointing; but suddenly, when the Lord has illuminated their hearts to know and understand Divine things clearly, the Spirit of God comes with a sealing power upon them, and from that day forward they rejoice to know that they have the indwelling of the Spirit, and that they are set apart for God.
2. The manifestation, however, went on in another way. After the anointing it appears that David became a man distinguished for the valour of his deeds.
3. It appears, too, that he was very prudent. The same witness bearer said he was "a man prudent in matters." Such will you be, when as the elect of God the Spirit of wisdom rests upon you.
4. Mark well that one of the ways by which your election will become clear and sure to all God's people wilt be this: — If you are anointed king as David was before you, you will come into conflict with Saul. It cannot be possible that the chosen of God shall forever live in peace with the heirs of hell.
5. I think David was never more clearly manifested to be God's elect, except at the last of all, than when he was an outlaw. He never seems such a grand man as When he is among the tracks of the wild goats of Engedi. We do not read of many faults, and slips, and errors then. The outlawed David is most certainly manifested to all Israel to be the chosen of God, because the chosen of man cannot abide him. The brightest days for Christian piety were the days of martyrdom and persecution. Scotland has many saints, but she never has had such rich saints as those who lived in covenanting times; England has had many rich divines who have taught the word, but the Puritanic age was the golden age of England's Christian literature.
6. Remember that after all conflicts were over, David was crowned.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)1. The historical narrative commences just where David's life becomes an instrument of service for God. Is this not where our life history commences, the point from which the record starts? The years of training for the work require no record there God's plan concerning our creation has one great object, "that we may glorify Him"; and when our will is consciously surrendered to His, then our names appear as fitted into the mosaic of His purpose. Then, and then only. are we co-workers together with Him. No true heart ever altogether loses the influence of early days, and when those days are saturated with the piety of a godly mother, the influence is an important factor in the formation of character.
2. Samuel was on the Lord's work when his judgment was at fault. How often we need to be kept back — prevented from going as otherwise we would beyond our instructions! He who sends will tell you when to lift and on whom to empty the horn of consecrating oil.
3. We are reminded here of the old but ever-needed truth, that in the diligent performance of present duties lies the road to further usefulness and honour. David was just attending to his ordinary duties, minding the sheep. So was Gideon, when God's angel called him. Levi also was at the receipt of custom, end the disciples were mending their nets.
4. All great deeds are built upon and built up with little ones. The stupendous monoliths are grains, and rest upon atoms. The mightiest mountain is the aggregate of smallest grains, as is the ocean of tiny drops of water. So the hand that was to lay low the Philistine giant learned its accuracy of aim by exercise in daily duty.
I. IN THE DIVINE CALL LIES THE SECRET OF ALL SUCCESSFUL SERVICE AS OF ALL JOYFUL LIFE. And God knows where and when to find us. He sends His messengers direct to us. Every place is open to the coming of the Holy Spirit's monitions.
II. THE DIVINE CALL COMES IRRESPECTIVE OF OTHERS. No brethren, or sisters, or elders can hinder. If there be no Samuel at our feasts, there is ever the Spirit of God calling us through varied instrumentalities to arise. His whispers thinly heard must be obeyed. Sheep nor brethren, business nor friends, must keep us from obedience.
III. THE DIVINE CALL COMES TO THE INDIVIDUAL. David is the one whom Samuel takes apart and tells of God's choice.
IV. THE DIVINE CALL SEPARATES US FROM OTHERS. Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, Nathaniel, Raddai, Ozem, and, maybe, Elihu (1 Chronicles 27:18), the brothers, may be standing by, but Divine anointing separates. The Divine call separates you from yourself unto God's own self. And all that stands in the way of this separation makes misery. Beware. Obey. Response to Divine invitation is the only way to advance to Divine service.
(H. E. Stone.)
I. GOD DOES NOT ACT FROM IMPULSE. He always has a reason for any changes He makes; hence we hear Him say to Samuel, "How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him?" Tears are too precious to waste on these whom God has forsaken. It is as wise to thresh chaff as hope for results where divinity has withdrawn itself. The changes which history brings all go to show that the Ruler of the universe never is at fault. Calmly He lays His hand on the helm, and without fuss the course of a nation is altered. If the patriot or the Christian remembered this he would not be so ready to imitate the sin of Uzzah. Let us not tremble for the ark of God.
II. The coming of Samuel to Bethlehem proclaims the fact that SLAIN OPPORTUNITIES HAVE NO RESURRECTION. Saul had a great chance. Never had a monarch such a beginning. Opposition only helped. Rivalry was an impossibility. Spring and summer held the field. If be had been loyal to God, what was not possible? The greater the opportunity, the more the loss if we miss the tide. Ships in ballast can afford to wait longer than those in cargo. The more learning, or genius, or even religion, the more waste if we miss our chance. Saul is rejected of God. Henceforth he must be in eclipse. What is true of persons is still more so in churches. Neither Bishops nor Convocations can afford to disobey the mandate of God.
III. Saul has unfitted himself to carry out the Divine programme, but GOD IS NEVER AT THE END OF HIS RESOURCES. The son of Jesse can take the place of the son of Kish. What examples of this same thing abound in political life! How historic names pale and famous places cease to be known! Judah takes the place of Benjamin, and unknown Bethlehem wins a place on the map of the world. Tamworth, Bedford, Knowsley, Hawarden, Beaconsfield may in future be names in guide books rather than history. Possibly Oxford and Epworth may share their fatal. But other names appear. Providence has always arrows in its quiver. If one man will not, another will! There were many learned and eloquent clergymen in England when John Wesley and George Whitefield began to preach. Many of them might have shared the glory of saving our country from that which defiled and devoured France. God is not at the far end nowadays.
IV. Jesse did not know the great man he had among his sons; for when Samuel came and called for the young men, David was left out of the reckoning: but then THE ELECT ARE NEVER OVERLOOKED BY GOD. Human eyes may not see the nimbus, but He who put it there does.
V. After all, let us say to the anointed, PROMOTION IS NOT ALL PROFIT. The javelin is in the palace. Men rise to become prominent as targets. If you don't like to be shot, don't come when Samuel sends for you. The Church and the nation are crying out for men for the forlorn hops. Honour awaits the man who is not too anxious for the safety of his father's son. But Saul is envious, and has a javelin for the harper; so stay and prove your fitness for the company of the ewes — if you are afraid of the risk which comes to those who climb above their fellows.
(Arthur J. Pierson, D. D.)
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